This weekend just gone, Dom, Tom and I went to Salima district for work as we have been getting loads of enquiries from people with bats in the area, so we make a trip to do some roost visits which is really important part of the work we do. Sadly though, many of the enquiries are from people who are not currently happy having bats in their houses, but hopefully we can encourage them to understand bats and feel able to live with them too. Malawi has been highlighted as a bat hotspot, however the country is subject to high levels of deforestation. Therefore, many bat species have adapted to the urbanized landscape we have built and many can be found roosting in artificial structures, including houses. Just like us they are seeking somewhere warm to live and raise their young!
However not all people want to live with bats and sometimes conflicts can even lead to inhumane control methods, such as fumigation. This is especially true in a country like Malawi with little legislation protecting bats, none on roost protection and very little enforcement. This is why we make sure to conduct roost visit and try to engage with homeowners. Through discussions with home owners we can often encourage people to see the benefits of bats and make them understand more about them and often people end up being ok living with bats, some even end up wanting to encourage more!
Whilst in Salima we are flat out doing roost visits, emergence surveys and even some hand netting to help identify species. We are very thankful to stay at the Kumbali Lakeside Retreat – who are one of African Bat Conservations sponsors, we are even given canoes one morning which makes for a great start to the day! We saw some cool birds and got to swim afterwards in Lake Malawi too! Nice to get a little break by the Lake. I managed to get down to the beach one morning to do some yoa and take some photos of the sunrise which was beautiful. There is also an amazing baobab tree here which is huge! We got a selfie with it as it is just so beautiful, I love baobab trees. They are such an important tree with so many health benefits and uses to us humans ? We have also seen baboons and dasi about too.
We were so fortunate with the weather and it was glorious! We all got a bit burnt in fact… We also had an adventure trying to find food at times but we had some pack lunches prepped, had a meal at the Kumbali restaurant and ate our packed lunches in some cool spots whilst we out surveying. Something I always tried to do in England too, so that is a bonus. I love eating with a view. We find ourselves surrounded fairly often by local kids who are intrigued by us sat down eating out of Tupperware by the side of the car and aren’t really used to foreigners in the area. We use the opportunity to hand out some Chichewa bat leaftlets to the kids though and do some ‘mileme’ hands at them. After a busy few days we head back to Lilongwe and we have another new arrival to meet at the urban research camp, Dan whose a volunteer joining us for the next couple of weeks.